Well, without planning it, I seem to have somehow gotten on a “detox roll” lately. First there was the post recently on the free Detox the Right Way event, then the post on the five best yoga poses for detoxing, and now this one on 6 foods for winter detox. But doing/using a variety of methods (food, exercise, etc.) to relieve your body of toxins is often better than relying on just one way/protocol, so I say go for it! The more the merrier!
BTW, I was already aware of most of the foods listed below as being good for detoxing, but I’d never really considered lentils in that way before. But I’m glad to learn they are because I eat them on a regular basis.
6 Foods For Winter Detox
For many the word “detox” triggers visions of a regular spoonful of ghastly concoctions forging a close bond with the toilet for at least a day, thereafter getting a pat on the back for being clean from the inside! Even today, by the push of a button, one can find all sorts of potions and programs that promise renewed energy and inner purity. It probably makes sense as the average diet is riddled with heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, caffeine, nicotine and the likes, but on the other hand, a healthy body should have the capacity of getting rid of these impurities. Mother Nature has ingeniously designed certain foods to promote natural detoxification, even for winter when greens are scarce and lack nutrition. Let us look at what there is on offer to get our bodies working on the remnants that goes hand-in-hand with the culinary feasts of this time of year.
1. Lemon is a great detoxifier. If you don’t want to drink glasses full of lemon water, use it in your daily cooking. It replaces salt quite well and in combination with herbs, it can add taste to any meal. The reasons for using lemons (and limes) are numerous, as it is packed with cleansing properties due to it’s high vitamin and mineral content. It aids digestion and water retention, it stimulates the liver to expel chemicals more efficiently, it dissolves mucus and acts as an anti-inflammatory and due to it’s high vitamin C content, is a powerful antioxidant.
Be sure to check out these Self-help Health posts for more on lemons:
2. Brassica oleracea is the species of plant commonly known to us as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, but also includes a loose-leafed variety such as kale. This group of winter veggies is potent! It triggers a complicated string of chemical processes in the body necessary for general health. It is high in glucosinolates, which stimulates the body to produce a certain protein that deactivates certain cancer-causing substances. Once again, it is an antioxidant due to it’s vitamin C content, it has beta-carotene that is turned into vitamin A in our bodies which is vital for healthy skin, mucus membranes and eyesight, and a good immune system booster too.
3. Onions, garlic, shallots and chives are all part of the allium family which is loved by some, hated by some but altogether a fantastic addition to any diet, detox or not, as it contains a variety of nutrients. Sulfur, also found in ample amounts, is especially good for the liver which plays a crucial role in ridding the body of toxins. Quercitin is worth mentioning as it has been shown to effectively regulate cholesterol, fight infections and allergies, it wards of blood clots and inhibits stomach cancer.
4. Cayenne pepper is a hot and spicy chilly pepper available all year round and great for adding zest to many a dish. It’s therapeutic properties has recently been in the spotlight. It is useful for many ailments such as heartburn, helps relieve flu and cold symptoms, is anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, triggers the body’s natural feel-good and pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins, is an anti-allergen and most of all, cayenne pepper is a great circulatory stimulant, it causes sweating, increases the pulse and stimulates digestion, all crucial in the process of detoxification.
5. Beetroot instinctively jumps to mind as an antidote for anemia. In the Doctrine of Signature, a non scientific theory, it is claimed that the external features of plants are linked to certain human features, the color of beetroot resembling blood and believed to be very good for the blood in the same manner that walnuts are good for the brain. This theory carries a little bit of weight in the case of beetroot, as it contains a fair amount of iron, but that is one small factor. It has been elevated to the level of superfood as it contains nutrients in abundance, with outstanding purifying properties. The sap of fresh beets cleanses the liver, spleen and gallbladder, the magnesium content is high, which purifies the blood and dissolves non-organic calcium that accumulates easily in blood vessels. Whether cooked or raw, it boosts the immune system, is a noteworthy antioxidant and speeds up the metabolism. Plenty of reason to “eat more beet”!
6. Lentils, with their earthy, peppery taste are an easy-to-use ingredient that can be added to a variety of dishes, not only for adding flavor, but also adding goodness, as they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, fiber, folate and an excellent source of protein. Lentils are greatly beneficial to one’s health, whether actively detoxifying or not. It is good for the intestines, good for the heart and good for the brain, the blood, the body. Use them as often as possible if you are aiming for longevity.
There are many more incredibly powerful foods out there. Apples, almonds, *avocados, artichokes and asparagus just starting off at the beginning of the food alphabet. Don’t forget to generously add the splendor of herbs and spices. With a gentle shift in eating habits, putting the processed and refined foods aside and incorporating the interesting and colorful list of healthy ingredients into one’s daily diet, there should be no need for taking grandma’s revolting concoctions in order to get through winter in a pure and healthy way.
*Check out this Self-help Health post on avocados.
And here’s a recipe from mynewroots.org I tried recently that features broccoli and lentils and other healthy, hearty ingredients, plus I love the fact that it’s called a Winter Abundance Bowl….
Winter Abundance Bowl
2/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup green lentils
¼ – ½ tsp. sea salt
1 head broccoli
1 medium sweet potato (leave the skin on if it’s organic!)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
juice of ½ lemon or lime
drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil
1. Combine rice and lentils in a medium bowl, cover with water and wash well, rubbing grains and legumes together. Drain and repeat until water is clear. Cover with water again and soak overnight / for up to 8 hours, if possible. Drain and rinse.
2. In a medium saucepan place the rice and lentils, plus 1½ cups water (if soaked – add 2 cups water if un-soaked), and sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered until water has been absorbed and rice and lentils are cooked through (about 30-45 minutes depending on if you soaked the grain or not).
3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, chop the broccoli into florets and the sweet potato into bite-sized cubes. About ten minutes before the grains have cooked (check the water level before adding veggies – if it’s dry, add a little more liquid), add the sweet potato. After five minutes, add the broccoli on top of the sweet potato.
4. While the rice and lentils are cooking you can also blend together the sauce (see below) and prepare the cabbage: Shred cabbage using a mandoline or sharp knife. Toss with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt. Toss to combine.
5. To assemble the bowl, simply spoon in the cooked rice and lentils with the steamed veggies, add the cabbage on the side and pour sauce over. Give thanks for the abundance and enjoy.
Garlic-Ginger Pumpkin Seed Sauce
Makes 2 cups
1 cup/150g *pumpkin seeds
3 cloves garlic
knob of fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
¾ -1 cup /175- 250 ml water
¾ tsp. fine grain crystal salt
¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds, stirring every so often, until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. In a food processor, pulse to mince garlic and ginger. Add cooled pumpkin seeds and blend on high until sand-textured. Add remaining ingredients (start with ¾ cup water) and blend, scraping down the sides periodically. Add remaining water as needed to suit your desired consistency. Season to taste. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
This recipe makes quite a lot of sauce, but as it keeps for five days it’s a wonderful thing to have on hand to dress salads, roast veggies and cooked whole grains. You can easily make half the amount if you know you won’t eat it all in before it spoils.
You can also make a raw version of this sauce. To do so, soak the pumpkin seeds for 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse well. Skip step 1 in the instructions and carry on with the others. Enjoy!
*Read about the power of pumpkin seeds in this Self-help Health post.
FYI, I loved the sauce and will be using it on more than just the Abundance Bowl in the future. I made it even healthier by using structured water and Go Raw Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds (less phytic acid to worry about, plus more good-for-you enzymes) and tastier (these are the best tasting pumpkin seeds I’ve found!). I always buy mine on-line because it’s less expensive that way (these pumpkin seeds are not cheap, even with a discount, but well worth the extra money). One of my favorite discount places to shop is iHerb.com; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off, plus can choose something from their free samples and take advantage of their wonderful trial offer section. Shipping is free on orders of $20 and up. There’s an extra 5% off on orders over $60. How does it get any better than that?!
For more about the recipe, go to:
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.